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Madigan ducks another court appearance | Illinois


(The Center Square) – Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan won’t have to appear in court next week ahead of his April 2024 corruption trial. 

U.S. District Court Judge John Robert Blakey had initially ordered all parties to gather in his courtroom for a hearing. Both Madigan and co-defendant Michael McClain, a former state lawmaker and close confidante of Madigan, asked to appear by telephone instead. The judge denied that motion, but said he would allow them to appear by videoconference for the hearing on Jan. 3, 2024. 

Federal prosecutors first charged Madigan and McClain in March 2022, but Madigan has yet to appear publicly in the Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse, commonly called the Dirksen Federal Building.

McClain’s defense team asked in an earlier motion that McClain be allowed to appear by phone “due to the physical and financial hardship that appearing in person in Chicago would impose on him.”

McClain lives in Quincy, Illinois, about 300 miles from Chicago. The motion also cited the former lobbyist’s health. 

“Due to health reasons related to Mr. McClain’s radiation treatment for prostate cancer in the past and other medical issues, he requires frequent stops and breaks on long car trips,” his defense attorneys wrote in the motion.

A jury convicted McClain and three other defendants in May of a multi-year scheme to bribe Madigan with no-show jobs, contracts and payments to associates in exchange for support with legislation that would benefit the state’s largest utility, Commonwealth Edison. During that eight-week trial, McClain appeared daily with his wife. McClain has yet to be sentenced in that case.

Madigan, who lives in Chicago, and McClain asked the judge to stay proceedings in the case or reschedule the trial date to the fall of 2024, after the Supreme Court decides another case involving the federal bribery statute. The Madigan case is set for trial in April 2024. The Supreme Court is expected to decide Snyder v. United States by June 2024.

Madigan was charged along with McClain in March 2022 with 22 counts of racketeering and bribery for his alleged improper dealings with the state’s largest utility, ComEd. Prosecutors further alleged that he used his political power to unlawfully steer business to his private law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner. In October 2022, prosecutors filed a superseding indictment that charged Madigan and McClain with conspiracy related to an alleged corruption scheme involving AT&T Illinois.

Madigan’s attorneys said that federal prosecutors failed to make their case that Madigan engaged in quid pro quo transactions. That’s at the center of the Snyder case.

As The Center Square previously reported, James Snyder was the mayor of Portage, Indiana. He was convicted of accepting $13,000 from a truck company after the company won bids to sell garbage trucks to the city, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Snyder said the money was payment to his consulting business and the truck company owner stated that at the trial. The government alleged Snyder received the payment as a gratuity and didn’t have to prove the payment was for a bid approval.

The Seventh Circuit upheld the conviction but noted the same conduct would not have been a federal crime in the First and Fifth Circuit courts.

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